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Smart Cities Challenge

The Town of New Glasgow has applied to the Smart Cities Challenge with the aim to close our economic divide and reverse population drain by leveraging an infrastructure of collaborative and connected technologies, and the mobile workforce to become Canada’s capital of townsizing.   Read more about:

What is Townsizing?

According to the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing if you can’t be number one in a category, start a new category. This is what Pictou County is doing.

    It is no secret that the sectors which have allowed Pictou County to compete on a global scale (such as steel production and rail car manufacturing) have migrated to countries of low labour costs. The community leaders of Pictou County know that getting this back is simply not realistic. They do recognize that several metal fabricators are doing high quality work but there is simply not enough activity happening in this sector to expect a community to be economically transformed.

  Pictou County has come to the realization – as hard as it is – that our days of forging steel have come to an end. So the question is, what’s next? Beyond Steel there is no sector that Pictou County can truly expect will deliver the short term success it needs nor can it afford to pursue an alternative sector in any meaningful way. Any attempt to enter a sector ‘owned’ by other locations means being a follower. To make any meaningful economic impact to our community we need to be a leader. This is why Pictou County is going to create a sector where one doesn’t exist.

  This concept paper outlines a strategy of transforming the Pictou County economy by becoming the world leader in a one of the fastest growing trends in the modern workplace; townsizing.

  By the end of this year, there will be 1.3 Billion people working for companies who do not occupy space in the company’s physical location. These people work remotely and make up what is considered the ‘mobile workforce’, a population that is a staggering 37.2% of the world’s working population.   Of these 1.3 Billion people there has become an infinite number of people who are looking to leave the rat race and urban sprawl and are wanting to move to a small, culturally progressive community. Professionals who are currently looking for the exact pace of life we offer. These professionals have money to spend and homes to buy… and they bring their job with them. We can reverse our declining population with well paid professionals who are looking for a better quality of life, a place to raise kids in a safe environment, where transportation issues are minimized and where the cost of housing is more affordable. They are looking for exactly what we have. This demographic shift is referred to as  “townsizing,” and is a growing trend involving people who want to live in smaller areas that boast a lot of amenities.

  Since the recession, smaller cities and towns are the areas seeing the most growth and development, with an influx of new residents and entrepreneurs revitalizing local economies.

  As mass-urbanization sweeps the globe, a counter-trend has emerged among city dwellers looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous luxury high-rises and corporate branding overtaking so many large cities today. These people – led by Gen X and Y – want to feel human and crave a mix of urban flavours and small-town community. These people are “townsizing” and relocating to smaller, culturally progressive towns and cities that offer a more unique and creative way of life. This trend is more about an emerging desire for a middle ground between huge megacities and small towns that incorporates diversity, culture, entertainment, art and education.

  The most popular areas attracting these urban defectors are now boasting thriving town centers that are brimming with a sense of community, creativity and local pride.

  Yes, Pictou County wants more startups. And, yes, we welcome more investment attraction but let’s sell something else that we have in abundance…our way of life… something that many are willing to pay dearly for.   By 2036, projections show that somewhere between one-in-three to one-in-four residents in Nova Scotia – not Pictou County – Nova Scotia, will be of retirement age. We have to reinvent ourselves or die. It’s as simple as that.

    Townsizing is a gift we have been given. It is ours to own. Our community has the opportunity to be the market leader in an area where no market leader exists – we can own “townsizing”. In fact, we have already acquired townsizing.ca in anticipation of doing some very special.

  As our community leaders come together we need to coordinate Pictou County as the kind of destination for people seeking a different lifestyle. Don Mills is Canada’s expert in townsizing. Mr Mills recently said “Younger people with families are seeking opportunities to bring their children up in safe, walkable communities where there’s not a lot of commuting and you know, they’re close to nature and they have many of the amenities of larger urban areas.  

Amazingly, Mr. Mills has also publicly acknowledged Pictou County as a perfect example of a place to townsize to.